The problem with President Obama’s willingness to give into Senate Republican’s “hostage taking” tactics is that it just ends up encouraging them to take more hostages and demand even bigger ransoms.
The most recent hostage taker is Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and his latest hostage is the South Korean free trade deal. From The Hill:
Trade tensions between the White House and Republicans burst into the public on Wednesday as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) threatened to hold up an agreement with South Korea.
Hatch said President Obama’s highly touted deal with South Korea, which has won support from both parties, the business community and labor groups, will not win consideration from Republicans unless it is paired with more controversial deals with Colombia and Panama.
Personally, given how stupid all three trade deals are, this is one time I would be perfectly happy to see the Republicans shoot the hostage, but I fear Obama will use this as an excuse to make a bad piece of legislation even worse.
From a raw politics perspective, I must grudgingly respect this move my Hatch. Given Obama’s history of terrible negotiation skills in the face of GOP hostage-taking tactics, it just might work–and if it does, it would have the important added political bonus of creating political infighting and bad blood on the left going into the 2012 presidential election.
While the AFL-CIO and other big unions oppose all three deals, the South Korean deal has won support from the United Autoworkers. And while other unions oppose the Korea and Panama pacts, they would see movement on Colombia by the administration as almost an act of war. For years, unions have drawn a line in the sand over Colombia, which they say has not done enough to stop violence against union organizers.